You’ve likely noticed with unease that your health care costs increase each year. This trend can significantly impact your budget, and it can be difficult to control all the contributing factors. Ready for the good news? Stretching your health care dollars is easier than you think with MedCareComplete and these 10 easy ways will help you get the most bang for your buck.
1. Understand how your health plan works. This is the first and probably most important step. You need to know what is and is not covered, what procedures you need to follow to ensure claims are paid, and which providers and facilities to use to get the most cost-effective care. Know the deductibles, copayments and other out-of-pocket costs you are responsible for paying before you use medical products or services or get a prescription filled.
2. Use in-network providers. Participating providers (doctors, hospitals, and others in your plan’s network) generally charge discounted rates for plan members. When you go to a non-participating provider, you are almost guaranteed to pay a higher coinsurance percentage (for example, 30% out-of-network versus 10% in-network). You will likely also have to pay the difference in price between the participating provider’s discounted fee and the non-participating provider’s “regular” fee.
4. Ask your doctor about home testing and monitoring devices. Home tests for blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions can help ensure you are following your doctor’s orders and that prescribed treatments are working. These tests will usually cost less than in-office testing. Check with your doctor to be sure in-home testing is appropriate, report your results regularly and call your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
5. Only go to the hospital emergency room for true emergencies. If you need medical care for a common or acute illness when your regular doctor is not available, use Telemedicine rather than going to a hospital emergency room. Avoiding the ER and even urgent care will save you money for two reasons: 1) There is no copay to use Telemedicine. 2) Your insurer might make you pay for the full cost of care if you use an emergency room for a non-emergency. Plus, receiving care from Telemedicine will be much faster than at the ER or urgent care. Why spend hours in a waiting room if you don’t have to?
6. Carefully review all medical bills. Insurance companies and hospitals are not exempt from making billing errors. Ask for an itemized bill for all procedures and submit any over $300 to your Medical Bill Negotiator service where it will be professionally checked for inaccuracies. Savings typically fall in the 20-50% range: that’s money straight back into your pocket!
7. Use any additional programs or discounts provided by your employer or health plan. Medication Management is a convenient home delivery service for members and their families who suffer from chronic and poly-chronic conditions such as diabetes and COPD. This program can help you stay healthy and manage your condition with the assistance of a Patient Care Coordinator. In addition, many employers offer complementary programs that are designed to prevent illness and lower health costs over the long run.
8. Live a healthy lifestyle. Healthy habits such as exercising regularly, eating well and not smoking can increase your stamina, improve your mood and lower your risk for countless diseases. Aside from the physical and psychological benefits, healthy living can also offer financial rewards, such as lower premiums for non-smokers and fewer doctor visits for those with low blood pressure.
9. Make careful decisions about prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are the fastest rising area of health care costs and one of the biggest reasons behind dramatic increases in health care costs nationwide. The Compare and Save Network℠ is a unique pharmacy and health discount program to help you save on prescription and healthcare costs. You will gain access to discounts on a wide variety of health products and services at reduced costs with this service.
10. Use a health care spending account to pay for medical expenses with pre-tax money. If your employer provides you access to a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), use it! These accounts let you set aside pre-tax money from your paycheck to pay for eligible items such as prescription drugs, deductibles, coinsurance, dental expenses and vision care. You can save for these expenses gradually, rather than having the money in your checking account when the need arises.
Health care costs are tied directly to utilization; when you use your health plan more, there are more claims. The higher the claims, the more you and your employer must contribute to pay for those claims. Don’t forget that the most effective way to reduce the cost of health care is to use your MedCareComplete services and make better decisions about the way you live, including the way you eat, exercise and spend your health care dollars.
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